Titanic Violin to Be Displayed at Two U.S. Museums

(Originally published here:  http://www.allthingsstrings.com/News/News/Titanic-Violin-to-Be-Displayed-at-Two-U.S.-Museums  )


A violin that is reported to have belonged to Wallace Hartley, the bandmaster of the RMS Titanic, will go on display at two US museums in 2016.

The display will mark the first time the violin will be available for the public to view since it set a world record in 2013 after an anonymous buyer paid more than $1.6 million during a British auction held by Henry Aldridge & Son.

The violin, which Hartley was said to be playing while the “unsinkable” luxury liner sank as passengers boarded lifeboats—a now infamous scene in James Cameron’s 1997 Titanic—will head to the Titanic Museum Attractions in Branson, Missouri, from March 7 to May 29, 2016 and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, from June 5 to August 14, 2016.

Prior to the sale the violin, now deemed unplayable from damage at sea and “repairs” made to it since its discovery, it underwent a series of tests and CT scans for seven years, commissioned by auctioneers Henry Aldridge & Son, to authenticate its origins.

“The Titanic violin may never be played again,” Mary Kellogg, co-owner of the Titanic Museum Attractions, said in a statement. “But one of the final songs [“Nearer, My God, To Thee”] Wallace Hartley was said to have been playing during the ship’s final moments can still be heard in our imaginations.”

The violin is said to be a gift from Hartley’s fiancée Maria Robinson—it bears the engraving: “For Wallace on the occasion of our engagement from Maria.” It is reported that the violin was recovered more than a week after the Titanic sank, strapped to Hartley’s body in a leather case that bore the musician’s initials “W.H.H.”, whose life was claimed along with the disaster’s other 1,517 victims.

After the violin’s recovery, it was reported that it was returned to Robinson. It’s believed that Robinson’s sister gifted the instrument to a Salvation Army after Maria’s death, and that the violin ended up in a violin teacher’s hands before it was acquired by Henry Aldridge & Son.

Is it traumatic to be a musician?

We all love and appreciate when someone is playing his instrument fantastically. Listening to someone playing oboe or cello we cry or have some visions of pictures, places, it seems so real, so live. Sometimes its just breathtaking.

But we should also know what is behind this beauty, behind this professionalism. Sometimes it is not only about hours and hours of hard work. Lets admit it – sometimes it is about health and wellbeing as well.

Guess what is this? This photo was taken right after piano competition, these guys just finished Bartok’s Trio:


Have you seen a “Whiplash” movie? No?  This guy is a great example that if you work really hard on something, well, get really to be hurt, and there’s nothing you can do:


You may say “Ok, I guess being a flutist is a good idea”. I dont want to sound dramatic, but no, its not. Flutists are finishing their career early because of extremely high intracranial pressure which is very harmful for health:


Oboe maybe?

Well, in my eyes oboe and bassoon are the most dangerous instruments EVER. The structure of these two instruments is very tricky, so is sound extract. The buzzer is very very narrow, so you exhale slow enough so huge amount of carbon dioxide accumulating in your blood. You can perform this experiment: take a deep breath and then exhale through, say, disassembled pen. Then straight away do it over and over again, for 20 mins. I can imagine that you’ll feel dizzy (the least to say) in 5-7 mins.  So, being an oboist means being simply intoxicated.

How about trombone or tuba? Hehehe, this sounds cool and loud enough.

If oboe and bassoon means hypo-ventilation of  your lungs, brass instruments are also harmful from the other end – and this end is hyper-ventilation, aka it is the same intoxication but with the oxygen. Lets do another experiment: imagine yourself blowing into 3-meter tube (this is an approximate length of straightened french horn) and not just blow but blow strong enough to create quite a strong air stream. Do it not once, not twice, but non stop for same 20 mins. Feel dizzy, your mind drifts?..  Welcome to the brass player’s world.

Ok, lets talk about strings then! They feel not so terrible already.  🙂

I play violin for more than 25 years and my left collarbone (violin hold side) is curved forever. I am not talking about blisters in fingers (common problem for all string players including guitarists):



I guess many of my colleagues are having the same problem, but it is way not that harmful compare to what The Ultimate Champion Of Ruining One’s Health – aka cello and harp – are doing to people.

It just seems natural to sit and play cello. But because of the nature of cello (and harp) one is not just sitting ALONGSIDE of the instrument, turns out the body twines around the instrument like a questioning sign, causing irreversible damage of core and spine. Speaking of harp, its all getting even worse through the fact that harp’s weight is ……    32 kg. Just imagine: sit down and curve your back like a goose neck, trying to sit like this for 3 hrs (this is how long “Swan Lake” goes). And then if you still enthusiastic, put some dumbbell or something really heavy on your left shoulder and sit like this two times for 10 mins (this is how long it takes to perform the most beautiful “Swan Lake’s” White and Black Adagios).


Well, lets admit it. Being a musician isn’t that easy, mentally and physically. But honestly, lets aslo admit it, it is worth it.